“This is my ‘depressed stance.’ When you’re depressed, it makes a lot of difference how you stand. The worst thing you can do is straighten up and hold your head high because then you’ll start to feel better. If you’re going to get any joy out of being depressed, you’ve got to stand like this.” — Charlie Brown
Everyone has down times and challenges to overcome. We all walk the path of life’s ups and downs and sometimes the “up” path can be steep. This is where friends, family, and community come in again. People with close friends, family, and a strong community recover faster from down times, failures, and sadness. Studies show that isolation exacerbates unhappiness, whereas friends and family and community lift our spirits.
“The ‘i’ in illness is isolation, and the crucial letters in wellness are ‘we.’” – Author unknown, as quoted in Mimi Guarneri, The Heart Speaks: A Cardiologist Reveals the Secret Language of Healing
With friends, we share our achievements, failures, strengths, and vulnerabilities. Good friends are there in good times and bad. We participate in each other’s lives. We share our feelings. We don’t go it alone.
When we’re going through our troubled times, it's important that we have a daily plan. With a plan, we don’t have to think about all our decisions because we’ve done the roadmap: our goals and our vision for our life. So, it’s easier to eat well, exercise, spend time in nature, write in our gratitude journal, and spend time with positive friends. All these things nourish us and we recover faster.
Finally, there’s laughter. Laughter sends endorphins into the bloodstream and relieves pain, both physical and mental. Laughter has been described as “inner jogging,” “respiratory gymnastics,” “the stress fighter,” and “a tranquilizer with no side effects.” Well, that all sounds good! Hurray for those great giggles we’ve had at the craziest times and hurray for our friends who make us laugh!
Sure, we find ourselves in the doldrums sometimes, but we don’t have to dwell there.
We can just choose to shift gears. Helen Keller said, “When one door closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”
Happiness tips for the doldrums:
- Smile, even if you don’t feel like it. Smiling automatically triggers your endorphins. And if someone smiles back at you – presto! More endorphins.
- Help someone else who’s having a difficult time.
- Do something productive to take your mind off your problem.
- Decide to stop worrying.
- Make lists of the things you’re grateful for in your life.
- Count in for five, count out for five as you breathe. When you’re counting, you won’t be able to think of your negative or worrisome thoughts
- Remember, happiness is a choice. Look in the mirror and say, with enthusiasm, “Happiness is a choice and I choose to be happy!” with a big grin. Do this five times and I guarantee, though you may feel silly, you’ll also improve your mood.
PS – This overview post above is meant for those of us that have normal bouts of anxiety or sadness. If you are clinically depressed, these are good and helpful tips to consider in conjunction with visiting your doctor for a more serious chat.